This Tuesday, Virginians will have the opportunity to exercise one of this country’s most sacred rights—voting. Whether it’s a General Assembly race, a Board of Supervisors or Town Council contest or another local election, citizens across the commonwealth will be able to let their voices be heard through the ballot box.
The legislative elections will determine political control of the General Assembly, with far-reaching implications for all Virginians. The incoming assembly will direct the state’s spending plan for the next two years, as well as act on such highly charged issues as guns, abortion and gambling. All 100 House of Delegates and 40 state Senate seats will be decided as Republicans defend their narrow hold on both chambers and fight a potential upset by Democrats, who hold all three statewide offices.
The campaigning has been intense, to say the least, as political fliers fill up mailboxes, ads clog the airwaves, and candidates and their supporters hoof through neighborhoods trolling for votes. Counties and cities report huge upticks in absentee balloting, and millions of out-of-state dollars are flooding Virginia’s hotly contested races—a precursor for the 2020 presidential contest.
Because the stakes are so high, it’s critical that voters know who the candidates are vying to represent them. This year, one-quarter of the House seats changed boundaries after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed in June a GOP appeal in the state’s long-running racial gerrymandering case, which stemmed from the 2011 redistricting. That meant some voters found themselves in different districts, with a new slate of candidates, just a few months before the election.
We hope the process improves. The incoming General Assembly will redraw legislative districts in 2021, which will take place after the 2020 census. We support the proposed redistricting commission that would take the map-drawing power out of the assembly’s hands and give it to a bipartisan panel of citizens and lawmakers, which would shine much-needed light on a murky process. The assembly gave initial approval to a constitutional amendment this past session that would create the commission, and we urge lawmakers to pass it again this winter so it can go before voters next November.
The Culpeper Star-Exponent adds: Much rides on Tuesday’s elections. The Star-Exponent does not endorse candidates. Instead, articles we’ve written about local and state candidates from the races that apply may be found at starexponent.com. Be an informed voter.